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Sickness, Sin, and Glory of God


Biblical belief of past was that sin caused sickness. Jesus confirmed this cause and effect in his words to the sick person he cured at the pool of Bethesda, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you” (Jn 5:14).

Sickness could also happen as punishment for the sins of parents. “Do not bow down to any idol or worship it, because I am the LORD your God and I tolerate no rivals. I bring punishment on those who hate me and on their descendants down to the third and fourth generation” (Ex 20:5). Punishment for sins to generations is repeated in Exodus 34:7 and Number 14:18.

Once Jesus and his disciples met a blind person from birth. The disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (Jn 9:2). Their question was based on the belief of the time. They provided only two choices to choose from: his sin or the sins of his parents. Since he was born blind, it could not be because of his sin. The probable answer they expected was that it was because of the sins of his parents or other ancestors. However, Jesus disagreed with that belief and answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him” (Jn 9:3).

Jesus gave a similar answer when the sisters of Lazarus sent a message to Jesus, saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” Jesus responded: “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (Jn 11:3-4).


Though the carelessness or sinful action of a person can cause sickness of oneself or others, that is not the cause in all cases. Sickness should also remind us of our human weakness in this life and rely on God-given medical treatment and the healing grace of God. Jesus had compassion for the sick and he healed all who approached him for healing and forgiveness of sins. Let us also take part in that compassionate care of Jesus in dealing with the sick and suffering.

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